Championing Sustainability and Resilience – with Felix Odhiambo

In the symphony of climate justice, agroecology plays the vital role of both composer and conductor, harmonizing sustainable farming practices with the urgent need for planetary healing.

In the ever-evolving landscape of sustainability and climate resilience, there are individuals whose dedication and innovative thinking stand out. Felix Odhiambo is the CEO and founder of the Project 8K initiative.

A visionary young Kenyan, he is redefining the intersection of wildlife conservation, agroecology, and market systems in the face of a changing climate.

With a dynamic background as a development systems specialist, Felix has found his niche at the crossroads of multiple vital domains. His professional journey is a testament to his unwavering commitment to making a positive impact.

Currently associated with the World Agroforestry, NutriProduce, and Consumer Grassroots Association, Felix brings his expertise to the intricate interplay between sustainable agriculture, wildlife preservation, and market dynamics.

How do you define agroecology, and why do you believe it is important in addressing climate change and food security?

Agroecology is a multidisciplinary approach to agriculture that integrates ecological principles, social values, and economic considerations to create sustainable and resilient farming systems. It emphasizes the importance of understanding and working with the natural environment rather than against it. The term “agroecology” combines “agriculture” and “ecology,” reflecting its focus on the interactions between plants, animals, humans, and the environment within agricultural landscapes.

Agroecology addresses issues of climate change and food security through its focus on sustainable and resilient farming practices that contribute to both mitigation and adaptation to climate change. One of these contributions is carbon sequestration. Achieved through; agroforestry (planting trees on farmland), cover cropping, and reduced tillage These efforts promote removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the soil and biomass.

Tentatively, through reduced greenhouse gas emissions, agroecology emphasizes minimizing the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which are often produced with high energy inputs and can release greenhouse gases during their manufacturing and application. By reducing the use of these chemicals, agro-ecological systems help mitigate emissions of nitrous oxide (a potent greenhouse gas) and other pollutants. Overall, agroecology offers a holistic approach to agriculture that acknowledges the interconnections between the health of the environment, society, and the economy. By prioritizing sustainable and regenerative practices, agroecology plays a crucial role in addressing climate change and building climate-resilient food systems.

Was agroecology part of what inspired you to be part of a climate justice movement?

No. It was the climate justice movement that inspired me to be part of the agroecology projects and similar efforts across the environmental sector.

What are your thoughts on the climate justice landscape in the country?

The climate justice landscape in Kenya has been evolving. It has both areas of progress and challenges in addressing climate-related issues in a just and equitable manner. It is important to note that Kenya is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. With significant risks in areas such as agriculture, water resources, biodiversity, and human settlements. This vulnerability can be seen through changing weather patterns, which affect the livelihoods of communities, especially smallholder farmers and pastoralists.

Kenya has demonstrated its commitment to addressing climate change through various policy frameworks and initiatives. The country has developed a National Climate Change Action Plan and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. These efforts outline its strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

It’s important to note that the climate justice landscape is dynamic, and developments may have occurred since my last update. To get the most current information, I recommend referring to recent reports, publications, and updates from reputable sources and organizations working on climate and environmental issues in Kenya.

What challenges have you faced in implementing agro-ecological practices? Were you able to overcome them?

Implementing agroecology in Kenya faces several challenges. Some of which, are common to many countries transitioning to sustainable agricultural practices.

  • Many farmers, policymakers, and extension agents in Kenya may have limited awareness and understanding of agroecology and its benefits. Lack of knowledge about agro-ecological practices and their potential impact on farm productivity and environmental sustainability can deter adoption.
  • Smallholder farmers, who constitute a significant proportion of Kenya’s agricultural sector, often face challenges in accessing essential resources. These resources include; land, seeds, water, and credit. Agroecology may require initial investments and a shift away from conventional practices, making access to resources crucial for successful implementation.
  • Agro-ecological products may also face challenges in accessing markets and achieving fair prices. The current agricultural value chains may not always be conducive to promoting agroecological practices or recognizing their value.

Despite these challenges, there are encouraging efforts and successes in implementing agroecology in Kenya that I have worked on. I have worked on successful projects with organizations such as; Nutriproduce, Consumer Grassroots Associations, Biovison, CIFOR-ICRAF and other research institutions. Additionally, I have been part of government initiatives, promoting agroecological practices and supporting farmers’ transition to sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture. Overcoming these challenges requires collaborative efforts from different stakeholders and a commitment to sustainable agriculture practices in Kenya.

In your opinion, what role can young people play in advancing sustainable agriculture, food security, and climate resilience? How would you inspire and engage other youth to join this field?

Young people can play a crucial and active role in advancing sustainable agriculture, food security, and climate resilience. As the future leaders and stakeholders in agriculture and environmental sectors, our engagement and actions are essential for building a more sustainable and resilient food system,

By actively participating in these roles, we can drive positive change. This inspires others, and contributes to a more sustainable and resilient future for agriculture and food systems. Our involvement is vital in shaping policies and practices that address global challenges like climate change and food insecurity.

Parting shot?

The involvement of youth in agroecology is critical for the future of sustainable agriculture and food systems.

Innovation and Creativity: Young people often bring fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and creative solutions to the challenges faced in agriculture. Their enthusiasm and openness to exploring new methods can drive progress in agro-ecological practices.  As the future leaders and farmers, we are directly affected by the consequences of environmental degradation and climate change. Engaging us in agroecology empowers us to take ownership of sustainable practices and create a positive impact for generations to come.

Youth engagement in agroecology allows for intergenerational knowledge exchange. Combining the wisdom of experienced farmers with the energy and curiosity of young people fosters a dynamic learning environment.

1 thought on “Championing Sustainability and Resilience – with Felix Odhiambo”

  1. Articulate. Young people must take the issues of climate change into their hands. They are nolonger the leaders of tomorrow but today because they are the gravely affected in terms of little opportunities to grill their skills and gainful employment.

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